Deaf man died after Leeds care home overdose

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A mother whose deaf son struggled with drug addiction and died in a home has called his care into question.

Thomas O’Driscoll, 32, moved to the SignHealth Care Home in Woodhouse, Leeds, last March after he was sectioned and spent 16 months in a secure hospital.

He was found dead, kneeling beside his bed with his head resting on it and a syringe and needle nearby, on June 18 last year.

His death came a day after he was put on suicide watch.

His mother, Anne Powell, told his inquest at Leeds Coroners Court: “He was known 18 months prior as he had been a drug addict and came out [of hospital] for the first time and needed help.

“I don’t think the place he went to was aware of people that maybe had had that problem.”

The court heard that Mr O’Driscoll, who lived much of his life in Dorset, had difficulty communicating with both people who had hearing problems and others from an early age.

He started drinking alcohol aged 16 before developing an addiction to heroin.

He was diagnosed with an organic mental disorder and placed on medication in 2004 and from 2005 he overdosed several times, before being sectioned in 2009.

Mrs Powell said: “He needed to be carefully monitored into life – as soon as he was out of hospital he thought he could go and have a drink.”

Forensic pathologist Dr Matthew Lyall said the cause of Mr O’Driscoll’s death should be recorded as “alcohol and drug toxicity” as he was found with both alcohol and a fatal amount of morphine from heroin in his system.

Deputy coroner Melanie Williamson said she wanted to know more about the measures put in place to monitor Mr O’Driscoll.

The hearing was adjourned until July, so that further witnesses could be called.

Steve Powell, chief executive of SignHealth, said they didn’t wish to comment until the inquest had concluded.

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